One cold autumn day, a flash of brown fur appeared in the road directly in front of my bus.

I was returning to our depot from a private rental in downtown Detroit. An oncoming car in the next lane over swerved violently to avoid this unknown thing. Upon stopping, I noticed a huddled, trembling ball of what used to be someone’s pet. I pulled to the curb, switched the bus off and gingerly approached this fearful little creature. I crouched low and called softly to get a closer look but she would not come.

I went back into the bus and found the most meaty thing I could find: an empty beef jerky wrapper. I tried again and this time I had her attention, if only a touch. When I approached her, she’d run in the other direction. I jogged to a corner store a few blocks away and bought a can of dog food and tried again; this worked. When presented with the meager meal, she gobbled up what she could and I had a chance to get a better look: This poor dog was starving, shaking and terrified of her surroundings. Wanting more, she followed at my heels back onto the bus.

I took her back to our depot in Ferndale and phoned the best local dog rescue, Dog Aide. We waited together, some carpet accidents happened; none of us are perfect. And so her story with us begins.

Meet Meliora

Mellie is an incredibly sweet, incredibly malnourished young pup. As of 11/5/2012, her health is extremely poor and she’s moving very, very slowly.

We’re deeply committed to saving Mel. We’re going to keep a liveblog going below this message so you can keep up to date on her condition.

The Mel Liveblog

Frequent updates about her general health and path to recovery

Update: 11/5/12 08:25PM: The rescuer from Dog Aide, Alexis, is here at the shop to pick up Mel. She says that due to her obvious milk production, her nipping at her hindquarters and kicking in her belly that she’s likely within 24 hours of producing puppies. She couldn’t have been rescued at a better time.

Update: 11/5/12 11:45PM: Alexis tells us that Mel will be going to the vet first thing in the morning to get a total evaluation, an x-ray to see the health of the puppies in her and treatment for her eye infection. We’ll know much more about the state of her health after her visit to the vet. Currently Mel is resting at Alexis’ home with her expert care. She sent in a few photos.

Update: 11/6/12 12:25PM: Mel is stable and resting in a comfortable spot. She’s playfully digging in her wood chips with her nose, which is hilarious and a great sign that she has some energy. No sign of the puppies yet, which is good since she needs some time to recover before giving birth. Her vet appointment and x-ray will be later today.

We’re nearing $1,200 in donations in under 12 hours, which is an incredible response: thank you all so much. We’ll be keeping a tally right here as to where each and every penny is being spent. We’re also rolling out a series of perks for donors that we’ll have more about in a bit. Everyone from $5.00 and up will get automatic email updates and be recognized as a savior.

Update: 11/6/12 05:49PM: Mel has made it to the vet! She’s perky and alert. These are all good signs as she was extremely sluggish when we found here; a sign of her starvation and the bitter cold. It seems a good night’s rest, a warm comfortable place and some new friends have done her quite well! We’re anxiously awaiting word on her health.

We’ve raised $2,087.34 from 80 donors so far, which continues to astound all of us with your generosity. Thank you.

Update: 11/6/12 10:21PM: These past 24 hours have been an absolute rollercoaster of emotion after having Mel come into our world by surprise. I had no idea that taking a back street towards home yesterday would have had such a profound effect on the path of not only our lives, but the nearly-extinguished life of one poor little dog.

First, I wanted to thank all of you for your EXTREMELY GENEROUS SUPPORT! You all have gone way beyond the call of duty and gave straight from your hearts. We’re currently at a whopping $2,187.79! This will go a long way towards covering the expenses for Mel’s emergency and long-term care.

Now, on to the bad news. Mel is very, very sick. She’s no longer pregnant. When the rescuer from Dog Aide picked Mel up yesterday, she was positive Mel was currently carrying puppies because her belly was full to bursting with hard masses which felt like newborn puppies and she was producing milk. I can attest as I felt her belly myself and was completely convinced.

As it turns out, Mel was on the verge of death because her bodily systems were completely shut down. Due to extreme dehydration, her digestive tract had come to a total halt some time ago and she was in the process of dying painfully. Her intestines are currently blocked solid by whatever food scraps, garbage and debris she could find to chew on. The vet estimates that Mel had her litter about 10 days ago and, due to her current health, there’s a near-zero chance her puppies were born alive. Even if she was still carrying her puppies, they would not have had a chance to live by this point even if she made it to an emergency vet.

We were told that when we found her, Mel was about 12-24 hours away from a cold, painful death. We couldn’t have saved her a moment sooner.

I’m sorry to tell you this, everyone, but I figured you would want to know. I was extremely excited to take the lead and help the bravest dog I know raise her very own litter against all odds. I can’t begin to imagine her disappointment after going through the extreme pain of bearing offspring only to lose all of them and slide into starvation.

But all is not lost.

We still have Mel. She currently has multiple infections in her reproductive tract, eye, bladder and mammary glands. She’s on an extremely restricted diet to try and restart her digestive tract and get fluids into her system again. Despite her dire situation, she’s very perky and the friendliest dog we’ve ever met. She’s quick to nuzzle anyone without hestitation and her tail swishes a mile-a-minute.

Hopefully, all of our future updates to you through this liveblog will be much more positive and tell a tale of salvation from a harsh and unforgiving world. We’re going to work with Dog Aide to provide direct and immediate care to all stray pregnant dogs and recently-born litters as these two types are typically euthanized at the Humane Society and dog pounds. It’s because pregnant dogs and newborn pups are extremely labor and cost-intensive to rescue and care for that they’re almost always put to sleep when they find their way into these organizations instead of getting to a caring, compassionate no-kill rescue like Dog Aide.

We’ll keep you posted through Mel’s liveblog here on how she does from here on out. Once she’s clear of her immediate medical risks and out of intense, direct medical care, we’re going to adopt her and make sure the rest of her life is comfortable, happy and full of love. We’re going to be tracking exactly how every penny is spent on Mel so you can see the huge amount of money it takes to save one life. Any leftover funds will go towards caring for other lost souls that we manage to save.

Thank you for being a part of this. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Update: 11/7/12 4:11PM: Mel is doing quite well! She still has a frighteningly long road back to good health, but the way is charted. She absolutely loves the peanut butter sandwiches she’s permitted to eat by the vet. Also, it turns out our little pup is going to be more famous this time tomorrow as the Free Press is writing a feature on her. Hopefully the attention will bring notice to the suffering of other pups in similar shape that wander around our city. Donations are up to $3,039.98 by this point, which will make this lucky pup and many others very comfortable! If you’re considering giving to the cause, please do, because there’s many more out there that need saving. Mel has shown us that stray pregnant pups, abandoned recently-born litters and abused mothers all need a very high level of care.

Update: 11/7/12 11:36PM: The response to Mel’s story has been absolutely astounding: We’re up to $4,170.30 in donations towards her complex care needs. We’re going to develop a concrete plan to use this money to help other pregnant dogs and recently-born litters once Mel is 100%. We hold strongly to our promise that every single penny will be used directly for the care of wayward pups – and we’ll put the numbers up for everyone to see clear as day. Thank you from the very bottom of our heart. This pics were taken just a moment ago; her underbite is endearing.

Update 11/10/12 12:00PM: We got word from the vet that Mel is heartworm positive. This isn’t a death sentence, but it’s a serious condition and is difficult to cure. Heartworm treatment for just the first round will cost between $400 to $1000, and generally more than one treatment is needed with additional meds and oral ivermectin to kill the micro filaria which are the larva and baby heart worms.

She also has an umbilical hernia, which will be fixed when she is spayed. They are giving her more time to rest and recover as she is not well enough yet to survive surgery and the heartworm treatment. A step at a time.

Update 11/11/12 7:20PM: Here she is, everyone! She’s home! Mel was dropped off a few hours ago and she’s settling in nicely. She has tons of toys, treats, healthy food. a comfy bed and everything else a pup could want, thanks to you. We’ll be posted up a ton more
photos over the weekend – and potentially get a livestream going. She still has her traumatic heartworm treatment to endure after she gets a bit stronger, but for right now we’re just happy to have her here.

Update 11/16/12 11:12PM: Hi everyone! Mel is doing very well. She’s eating a ton of the best food every day, getting her medicine daily and going out for walks on the town. She’s already been recognized by all sorts of people – she’s quite the famous pup! With all of this fame, we’ve got to keep her squeaky clean – especially since she has a penchant for dirt and garbage. So, today was bath time!

Click here for the full album!

Mel has moved! She and her friends have their own Facebook page now.
Follow all of her updates.
Head over there by clicking here.